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NSW's female players have swept the board at the National Women’s Championships, with Sydney women winning the cup competition and the Westpac NSW Country Corellas taking the Plate honours.
The three-day tournament held at St Ignatius from September 26-28 featured teams from every state and acts as a selection tool for the Wallaroos, who will compete at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France next year.
The undefeated Sydney women, captained by Cobie-Jane Morgan, took the overall title with an impressive three-try, 22-3 win over reigning champions Queensland in the Cup Final.
Among the try-scorers were duo Danielle Meskell and Ash Hewson, with the latter also contributing seven points with the boot: both played for the Wallaroos in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Their country counterparts, Westpac NSW Country Corellas led by Rebecca Smyth, took victory in the plate competition, building on a narrow 7-5 half-time lead to post a 26-10 final victory over Victoria, with impressive winger Jacqui Dudgeon bagging a double.
With the inclusion of Sevens Rugby in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the sport is rapidly attracting the attention of a growing brigade of talented young female athletes.
Amongst those participating last weekend were a number of dual internationals including Tui Ormsby, Sydney captain Cobie-Jane Morgan and Rugby League World Cup winner Alex Sulusi all competing, as well as Los Angeles-based gridiron player Chloe Butler, who made the leap into rugby union for her native Queensland.
Hanna Sio, a current member of the Australia Sevens squad and the sister of Paramatta Eels’ star Ken Sio was also a member of the Sydney team.
As the result of their winning performance, the Sydney women’s team will be hoping for strong representation when the 44-woman Australian squad is selected by recently appointed Head Coach of the Wallaroos Paul Verrell as part of the Wallaroos’ preparation for the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 in France.
From the Illawarra, Verrell has had a long and diverse rugby coaching career, including overseeing NSW Country representative sides, coaching junior elite programs and experience in women’s rugby, both sevens and 15s.
Australia’s road to France will include a training camp in February next year followed by a reduced squad of 26 players who will travel to New Zealand to play the Black Ferns and Canada in June, before taking on the rest of the world in August.
Australia placed third at the most recent Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2010 behind England and New Zealand.
Australian Women’s National Championships
September 26-28, St Ignatius’ College, Riverview
Cup Final: Sydney 22 (A Hewson, S Taufa, D Meskell tries; A Hewson 2 cons, pen) beat Queensland 3 (H Barclay pen).
2013 final placings
3= Western Australia
5 NSW Country
7 Australian Services Rugby Union
8 South Australia
Day 1 - 26/09/2013
NSW Country 22 v ASRU 11
QLD 32 v Western Australia 17
ASRU 5 v Western Australia 27
QLD 51 v NSW Country 0
Sydney 59 v South Australia 0
ACT 41 v Victoria 6
South Australia 17 v Victoria 22
ACT 5 v Sydney 17
Day 2 - 27/09/2013
QLD 19 v ASRU 7
NSW Country 15 v Western Australia 31
ACT 58 v South Australia 0
Sydney 57 v Victoria 3
Day 3 – Finals - 28/09/2013
ASRU 17 v South Australia 7
NSW Country 26 v Victoria 10
Western Australia 15 v ACT 15
Sydney 22 v Queensland 3